Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: questions for 2Ls and 3Ls  (Read 3786 times)

Miche

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 24
    • View Profile
    • Sharp & Useless
    • Email
Re: questions for 2Ls and 3Ls
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2009, 11:28:11 AM »
1. Is briefing on your own/reading every case from casebooks necessary?

 I read the cases and confirmed that I did understand the key facts. Learning to read cases is, largely, a function of learning what to skip and how to wade through someone else's prose and logic. I didn't brief any cases, though I highlighted a cogent phrase or two in each case to help me remember why the case was important.

2. I am very behind in almost every class I am taking because I read really slow. However, when I look at the outline and supplement materials, I still do understand why things are the way they are. What troubles me is that I sometimes have no idea whats happening while I'm in class because I didn't do my reading. Is attending every class really necessary to learn the law?

Being behind in reading is extremely common. As others have said, stay on top of the reading if you need the participation points. Otherwise, it's not a big deal to be lost because you skimmed or didn't read a case. For example, some cases have convoluted procedural history; that history is often irrelevant to the law or your professor's pet theories, but students end up spending 25 minutes discussing it because they don't yet know what's relevant and what's not. No big deal to be lost in that situation. Or sometimes, two or three cases have identical holdings to the main case, and the prof talks about the other cases just to drive home the point. As long as you know what the point is, it doesn't matter that you didn't read minor supporting cases.

On the other hand, if you're lost when the prof and students are applying rules to cases or comparing one set of standards to another set of standards, that's a bigger deal. What I mean is that the act of applying the rules or interpreting the standards or finding the elements shouldn't throw you for a loop. You may later be able to go back, read through outline/supplemental and understand what was said, but you'll be missing the exercise of analyzing, in real time. That "on the fly" analysis is a kind of mini-test, to see if you do in fact understand the material and to see if you'd be able to adequately analyze the material in an exam setting.

3. Also, I looked at some of the old exams and model answers. It seems like as long as I study on my own(but not necessarily always keep up with demanding reading load) and understand the law, I believe I will be able to produce a reasonable good answer on the exams that look similar to the model ones I've seen. I think supplements are very helpful, if not essential to my studying. To be honest, I think casebooks are unnecessarily confusing and worded in a difficult way/ contain extra information that really isn't the law etc.

Yep, I relied on supplementals heavily. And yep, casebooks are a jumbled mess -- they're collections of rulings, so the structure is necessarily more random. One case often stands for several different propositions, and sometimes there's a case that only half-illuminates an idea or perspective. You sound like you're focused on learning the law, which is important. Spend equal time learning how and when to apply the law and you'll be fine.

And, BTW, you can probably pass all your courses doing less than you're doing right now, depending of course on how vicious your school's curve is. But with some tweaks to what you're doing right now, you can do much bettter than "manage to pass."

G'luck!
Lawyers: performing acts on desks that no decent person would ever do.
-Miche, co-creator of Sharp & Useless

Ninja1

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 3089
  • ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: questions for 2Ls and 3Ls
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2009, 04:15:16 AM »
...

Lastly, some of my best grades came as a result of me typing crazy fast for the entire time of the exam.  Some Professors just get a pen out and give you a point for every good (and applicable) thing you write down.  You have to be careful because some teachers actually want quality over quantity, but it's extremely hard for a professor to really spend the time grading the overall quality if your response, so many of them just result to giving the best grades to whomever lays down the highest quantity of good rules, analysis and application.

So credited.
I'mma stay bumpin' till I bump my head on my tomb.

Miche

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 24
    • View Profile
    • Sharp & Useless
    • Email
Re: questions for 2Ls and 3Ls
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2009, 10:51:45 PM »
1. Is briefing on your own/reading every case from casebooks necessary?

I read the cases and confirmed that I did understand the key facts. Learning to read cases is, largely, a function of learning what to skip and how to wade through someone else's prose and logic. I didn't brief any cases, though I highlighted a cogent phrase or two in each case to help me remember why the case was important.

2. I am very behind in almost every class I am taking because I read really slow. However, when I look at the outline and supplement materials, I still do understand why things are the way they are. What troubles me is that I sometimes have no idea whats happening while I'm in class because I didn't do my reading. Is attending every class really necessary to learn the law?


Being behind in reading is extremely common. As others have said, stay on top of the reading if your professor makes a big deal about participation points. Otherwise, it doesn't matter that you're lost because you skimmed or didn't read a case. For example, some cases have convoluted procedural history; that history is often irrelevant to the law or your professor's pet theories, but students end up spending 25 minutes discussing it because they don't yet know what's relevant and what's not. No big deal to be lost in that situation. Or sometimes, two or three cases have identical holdings to the main case, and the prof talks about the other cases just to drive home the point. As long as you know what the point is, it doesn't matter that you didn't read minor supporting cases.

On the other hand, if you're lost when the prof and students are applying rules to cases or comparing one set of standards to another set of standards, that's a bigger deal. What I mean is that the act of applying the rules or interpreting the standards or finding the elements shouldn't throw you for a loop. You may later be able to go back, read through outline/supplemental and understand what was said, but you'll be missing the exercise of analyzing, in real time. That "on the fly" analysis is a kind of mini-test, to see if you do in fact understand the material and to see if you'd be able to adequately analyze the material in an exam setting.

3. Also, I looked at some of the old exams and model answers. It seems like as long as I study on my own(but not necessarily always keep up with demanding reading load) and understand the law, I believe I will be able to produce a reasonable good answer on the exams that look similar to the model ones I've seen. I think supplements are very helpful, if not essential to my studying. To be honest, I think casebooks are unnecessarily confusing and worded in a difficult way/ contain extra information that really isn't the law etc.


Yep, I relied on supplementals heavily. And yep, casebooks are a jumbled mess -- they're collections of rulings, so the structure is necessarily more random. One case often stands for several different propositions, and sometimes there's a case that only half-illuminates an idea or perspective. You sound like you're focused on learning the law, which is important. Spend equal time learning how and when to apply the law and you'll be fine.

And, BTW, you can probably pass all your courses doing less than you're doing right now, depending of course on how vicious your school's curve is. But with some tweaks to what you're doing right now, you can do much bettter than "manage to pass."

G'luck!
Lawyers: performing acts on desks that no decent person would ever do.
-Miche, co-creator of Sharp & Useless

kipford

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 69
    • View Profile
Re: questions for 2Ls and 3Ls
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2009, 07:32:13 PM »
Perhaps as an aside, I think using supplements as the primary source is dangerous in the long term.  I understand how it can help one get through law school, but when you get into the job market you will probably have to know how to read cases.  I actually think that the primary purpose of law school is learning this exact skill.  BarBri teaches you the state law before the bar, law school teaches you how to think like a lawyer.  If you are just reading a summary of the black letter law I'm not sure you are getting this skill.

FWIW, I use supplements very little.  I usually buy one or two for a class, but really only use them when making my own outline.  Other than a class I took pass/fail, I have read every page and case that has been assigned to me.  I also was one of a pretty small percentage of people who got a job offer following my 2L job this last summer (Vault 100 firm).  I think being able to read cases (and often a lot of them) and understand what was important in them without having a supplement was critical in my success.

I hope this doesn't sound smarmy, that is not my intention.  It is just a word of caution since actually getting a job (not just a summer associate gig) is the goal for most law students.

Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there...

jzaylia

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 7
    • View Profile
Re: questions for 2Ls and 3Ls
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2009, 11:36:59 PM »
I agree with what the others have said, but what's missing in the other advice, respectfully, is to understand the rationale of the cases.  I wrote an article about this.  it's coming out in the ABA Student/Lawyer Magazine this December, but I'm sure you need the advice now.  So, please see my blog about this very subject: http://jessie-zaylia.blogspot.com/2009_09_01_archive.html

I've also posted something another blog on "the legal question," but I don't know if that is something that concerns you.

Good luck!

LooneyBin

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Re: questions for 2Ls and 3Ls
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2009, 01:58:55 PM »
I agree with what the others have said, but what's missing in the other advice, respectfully, is to understand the rationale of the cases.  I wrote an article about this.  it's coming out in the ABA Student/Lawyer Magazine this December, but I'm sure you need the advice now.  So, please see my blog about this very subject: http://jessie-zaylia.blogspot.com/2009_09_01_archive.html

I've also posted something another blog on "the legal question," but I don't know if that is something that concerns you.

Good luck!

Wow jzaylia, I actually read your blog and you seem to have your analysis down pat. The only thing that I would add is that, as a 2L, I have found that its not always necessary to read the dicta. Last year, I often got confused reading the dicta. It is also helpful to pruchase the commercial briefs to use only as a guide. It can put you on the right track but it does not make up for reading a case. Furthermore, I have found that reading cases becomes much much easier as one goes along. It's almost as if you eyes become trained to spot the issues.
Cuse Law '08-'09
Penn State Law '11

Ninja1

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 3089
  • ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: questions for 2Ls and 3Ls
« Reply #16 on: November 29, 2009, 08:16:11 PM »
I agree with what the others have said, but what's missing in the other advice, respectfully, is to understand the rationale of the cases.  I wrote an article about this.  it's coming out in the ABA Student/Lawyer Magazine this December, but I'm sure you need the advice now.  So, please see my blog about this very subject: http://jessie-zaylia.blogspot.com/2009_09_01_archive.html

I've also posted something another blog on "the legal question," but I don't know if that is something that concerns you.

Good luck!

Wow jzaylia, I actually read your blog and you seem to have your analysis down pat. The only thing that I would add is that, as a 2L, I have found that its not always necessary to read the dicta. Last year, I often got confused reading the dicta. It is also helpful to pruchase the commercial briefs to use only as a guide. It can put you on the right track but it does not make up for reading a case. Furthermore, I have found that reading cases becomes much much easier as one goes along. It's almost as if you eyes become trained to spot the issues.

I agree with this, but it's hard to really tell what is and isn't dicta sometimes. To make matters worse, it seems like some judges just kind of throw some important aspect of a holding right into the middle of a big block of dicta for kicks (or in a footnote...).

And yeah, reading cases becomes way easier as time goes on. I probably spend 1/3rd of the time reading now as a 2L compared to last year, but I think I also get a lot more out of the reading.
I'mma stay bumpin' till I bump my head on my tomb.